Why Are Bugs Biting My Green Bean Leaves?

Written by louise harding
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Why Are Bugs Biting My Green Bean Leaves?
Garden pests eat the roots, stems, leaves and pods of green bean plants. (Bushel of Green Beans image by Tracey Loftis from Fotolia.com)

Discovering the leaves and pods of your green beans have been feasted upon by various garden pests is always a disheartening experience. Insects bite green bean leaves and pods to eat them. Bugs both "sneak attack" at night to dine and visibly busily chew away on your bean leaves. Determine the type of bug that is actively dining on your bean leaves in order to naturally or chemically eradicate the pest from your garden.

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Green Beans Defined

Green beans are known by many names: Haricots verts, French beans, snap beans, pole beans, runner beans, runner beans and common bean. The green bean is a member of the legume family. Green beans can grow on bushes, such as the derby variety or Blue Lake 274, or support poles, such as in the case of the climbing Kentucky Blue. According to the University of Illinois Extension, the green bean is the second most popular vegetable in gardens. Green beans are used in many dishes or served as sides and are sold as fresh, frozen or canned vegetables.

Leaves as a Food Source

Garden bugs that eat green bean leaves fall into three types of leaf diners: chewing, boring and sucking insects. Sucking insects, such as the bean aphid, suck the juices from the leaves. Leaves fed on by sucking insects will appear yellow and may curl. Boring insects, such the seed corn maggot, tunnel into the leaves, stems or bean pods and leave behind tiny holes. Chewing insects, such as the pea leaf weevil, chew on the edges or the entire leaf. The devastation left by chewing is visible as chewed leaf edges. Look for insect excrement in the form of a shiny track of sugar-like slime or syrup, specks that look like sawdust, or dark droppings.

Bug Predators

Many bugs eat green bean leaves. Determining what bug is snacking on your beans is the best way to attempt to eradicate the pests. Find a bug and place it in a plastic zipper bag. Consult garden books or websites or take the bagged bug to a garden centre for advice. The pea leaf weevil loves the roots and leaves of green bean plants. Typically, the pea leaf weevil's life cycle ends as the summer heat increases. Slugs also enjoy green bean roots and foliage. Slugs leave behind sugary, shiny trails of slime. A remedy for eradicating slug infestations is placing beer or salt in shallow jar lids depressed into the soil. The slugs fall in and die. Spider mites, such as the Pacific and two-spotted types, leave behind damaged leaves covered with webs that turn brown, wilt and see deformed future growth. A two-spotted spider mite can eat up to 22 plant cells each minute.

Prevention

Bug infestations can be controlled by natural or chemical means. Garden insecticides are available for most types of garden pests at garden centres. Always buy a garden spray intended specifically for green beans if possible. Spray the entire plant, including beneath each leaf, to ensure you find all hiding spots. Natural treatment for garden insects include weeding, removing dead or diseased plants immediately upon noticing them, washing leaves and vegetables with water regularly and rotating crops from one growing season to the next.

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